Column: Expositions prior to 1850

While there are various theories on the origin of expositions, it can be said that the model of modern expositions was developed between the 17th century and the 18th century. In 1667, an art work exhibition was held at the Louvre Palace in France. At the exhibition, creators competed with each other and art fans wrote reviews of the exhibits. In 1760, a nationwide art exhibition was held by the Royal Society of Arts, leading to the generation of catalogue sales and admission ticket systems.

Following the French Revolution of 1789, M. d'Avèze was appointed to supervise the restoration of a former royal factory in France. In 1797, at St. Cloud Castle, he held an auction of the factory's inventory items, such as tapestries, earthenware, and carpets. In 1798, he planned to hold a second auction, which was upgraded to a national project by F. de Neufchâteau, the Interior Minister. The minister believed that such an event would be effective for industrial revitalization. Unlike M. d'Avèze, however, the minister did not sell the factory's inventory items but merely exhibited them as articles not for sale. Also, some awards were granted to excellent exhibits after a process of judgment, which led to the establishment of the modern exposition system. At the venue newly established in Champ de Mars, Paris, and the arcades encompassing the venue, various items collected from across France were exhibited, drawing the popularity among the city's inhabitants. Awards were bestowed on A. L. Breguet, who devised watch-related products, and N. J. Conté, who made improvements to pencil lead.

Encouraged by the success of this event, France held a total of 11 expositions up to 1849. Every time an exposition was held, the number of exhibitors increased and the length of the event period expanded. As indicated by the establishment of an industry promotion association, the expositions began to stimulate the progress of domestic industries significantly. Also, learning from the success of France, various countries, such as Austria, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and the United States began to hold national expositions.

On the other hand, the United Kingdom, which had experienced the progress of the Industrial Revolution, generally believed that expositions were held by countries lagging behind in industrial progress. While events like fairs were certainly held, they emphasized product trades. However, such recognition was denied by Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria. Born to the royal family of Sachsen, Germany, he knew a lot about developments on the European continent. In 1845, he promoted a project proposed at the Royal Society of Arts, which he served as the President, to hold a domestic exposition of industrial products. From the next year, he held annual expositions of industrial arts and displayed excellent products, drawing public attention. The success of the expositions spurred him on to hold international expositions. He donated a huge amount of money for the holding of an international exposition, persuaded opponent council members, and visited foreign countries to invite them to the event. As a result of these efforts, the London International Exposition, which was initially planned as a domestic event, was held in 1851 as the world's first international exposition.


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